I can’t remember when I first saw Rip Taylor. It was probably on The Hollywood Squares or Match Game or, well, if you look at his IMDB credits he popped up all over the place and was unmistakable. I’ve probably forgotten where I saw him because he just overwhelmed everything else.Regardless of the role he was always Rip Taylor, the big-haired, big-moustached, confetti-throwing character sometimes known as “the crying comedian”. For most performers pretending to break down and throw themselves on the mercy of the audience would just be pathetic, but Rip Taylor made it work with a combination of charm and energy. It didn’t matter that his persona was probably as fake as his hair or that his jokes were ridiculously silly. He just made me laugh, and it’s fitting that his roles ranged from children’s shows—including just voice work—and more adult entertainment. Even when I was too young to understand the jokes other comedians made on game shows, or, for that matter, the jokes he told, I understood that Rip Taylor was funny.
It also didn’t matter that he regularly stole or recycled old jokes. If anything that was part of the fun, and I don’t feel bad about frequently stealing one of his lines. Any time I tell a joke that doesn’t go over so well I say, “This is it, folks, I don’t dance!” And that always does get a laugh, and every one of those laughs go to Rip Taylor.
Hail and farewell.